My DIY Fermentation Chamber

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ikonis

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I'm no carpenter by any means... But I thought I'd share what I was working on my lazy-sunday.









Ran out of insulation. But I have to go scavenge a few 120mm fans from my computer hardware stash and cut the holes in the divider wall.

I should be able to finish this thing off in the next few days.

By my eyeball measurements, I should be able to fit 4 carboys in it with room to spare... Not that I ever do that much at a time. So in reality, 2 carboys plus 2 cases of bottles to condition them in the same environment. More pics to come as they are available.

Edit: I'll be sealing everything off with that great stuff in a can... won't look pretty, but I prefer function over form ;)
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Plan on a few 120mm fans to circulate air around frozen water bottles

I know it's not the most efficient.... but it is the most cost effective for me.
 

SowegaBrews

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Nah, I love Son of Fermentation style fermenters. It looks good! How are you planning to circulate the air? Are you splitting the ice chamber?
 

chumprock

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I'm thinking about doing somethign similar, but using a peltier cooler out of one of those cheapo "car cooler" thingies...

Anyone have exp with peltier for a fermentation cooler?
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Nah, I love Son of Fermentation style fermenters. It looks good! How are you planning to circulate the air? Are you splitting the ice chamber?
Wasn't planning on splitting the ice chamber. Should I?
And I was planning on 4 120mm fans, 2 pushers and 2 pullers.
 

DeathBrewer

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That will work great. The idea of splitting off the ice chamber is that you can maintain very consistent temperatures in the fermentation chamber. Instead of just having fans circulate air around the ice constantly, it would only turn on when the thermostat read above your desired temp in the fermentation chamber. So it would only blow cold air on your fermenters when they are above their ideal temp.

Works very well...I got about a 2-3 degree swing and could maintain about 20° below ambient if I changed out the ice every day with my Son-of-Fermentation Chiller.
 

maztec

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What do you mean by splitting off the ice chamber? Putting it in an entirely separate unit?

And what type of temperature control device and power are you using to drive this? I was thinking of building something similar. Would be even better if I could build something like this that could do warm or cool and could sit in my shed. Except, the shed (a) has rats, (b) has a piss-poor lock, (c) has no electricity. I wonder if there is a way to build the box, on wheels, and make it rat proof, and have self-contained power ... perhaps use some old rechargeable wheelchair batteries or something....
 

DeathBrewer

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ikonis

ikonis

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I was mistaken, I do have a divider between the ice and the fermenters. I thought you meant to divide the ice chamber in half. (Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me)
 

Cpt_Kirks

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Here are a couple of pics of my cooler:




I just took some foam board and cut it to size with a box cutter. I used aluminum duct tape to hold it together.

It is holding that amber ale at steady 60*F.
 

pilotdane

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I'm thinking about doing somethign similar, but using a peltier cooler out of one of those cheapo "car cooler" thingies...

Anyone have exp with peltier for a fermentation cooler?
I've been thinking down the peltier road. I don't know if one or two peltier coolers would have enough power to cool a box but I was thinking of attaching the cold side directly to the fermentor so the cold could transmit directly into the beer and wraping the fermentor in an insulation blanket.
 

eriktlupus

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i think uri rage was experimenting with a peltier system for direct cooling on a cornie but couldn't get enough capacity to cool effectively.
 

Cpt_Kirks

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I am seriously thinking of adding a peltier cooler to the box I have pictured above. It probably won't cool it enough for lagers, but I think it would work to keep ales in the low 60's in the summer. I have a little one and have seen larger ones for about $35 surplus, including large heat sinks. They do require a HUGE 12 volt power supply, though.
 

SowegaBrews

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Wasn't planning on splitting the ice chamber. Should I?
And I was planning on 4 120mm fans, 2 pushers and 2 pullers.
I would think it would result in more efficient usage of your ice. look at this picture from the link Deathbrewer posted...



makes more sense to me than just using a fan to blow air from the general area of some ice.
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Well... I only put in the fans today (had a filling and a tooth pulled at the dentists and didn't feel like doing much else)...
I still didn't split up the ice chamber into two compartments... I just don't feel the need to do so.... who knows, may change in the future... I do plan on filling the ice chamber up with frozen containers.... it should work well.... We'll wait and see



Completely needs cleaned up.... but I'll get to that tomorrow after I keg up my milk stout.
 

maztec

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Ikonis, that is looking good!

However, I wonder - is there any benefit to doing two top fans, rather than a top and bottom fan? I would think a top and bottom fan would move the air around better.

Theory goes like this:
Hot air rises. Cold air sinks. Coldest air will be closest to bottom, Hottest air will be closest to top. If you just move air from top to top, then you are moving around warm air - it will cool briefly, but it just shuffles around. If you move from bottom to bottom, again, it will be warm at top, and you are mostly moving around cold air. However, if you go from brew chamber to cold chamber on top and cold to brew on bottom, you will maximize the heat exchange.

In fact, I bet you could make a system that was entirely passive circulation if you made a thermosiphon. Or, if you are interested in a peltier like system, you could look into using a heat pipe to cycle the temperature exchange.

In fact, would an insulated heat pipe work well for keeping a single carboy cool? You could do an internal, external, or both...

Uhmm, okay, I am going to go off on a serious tangent with heat piping, so starting a new thread to discuss that. If someone is interested, it is linked here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/passive-carboy-cooling-heat-pipes-120024/

Hmm..
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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I considered doing a whole radiator setup.... and with regards to the heat rising? It's such a short chamber, I believe that to be negligible. Also, these fans are rated at 100cfm... shouldnt give it too much time to rise from bottom to top anyways.

That chamber will be chock full of frozen biscotti containers.
 

DeathBrewer

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That's the idea of the flow, is that it will pass through the ice efficiently as possible before it exits to the chamber. I'd think that the four fans work less effectively, but that it will be fine for his uses.

And I think it's side by side fans, instead of top and bottom fans...I think the side by side works better.
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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I'll just got ahead and switch the two hot air pullers to the top... and the two cool air pushers to the bottom.... I'll get it all wired up today and put a thermometer in it and run it for a night.

I'll report back.... the house usually sits anywhere near 75-76... im shooting for the 60's and whichever way, that shouldnt be a problem.
 

Ridemywideglide

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Basically, just putting some insulation in between the ice and the fermenters, leaving only space for the fans, and then setting those up to a thermostat.

Here are some examples of the Son-of-Fermentation Chiller:

Pictures of the "Son of Fermentation" chiller in action

http://www.blackcanyonbrewers.com/BCHA-PDF-Files/chiller.pdf

Wort-O-Matic: 38DD Mother of a Fermentation Chiller

All you need to power is some fans, so I'm sure you could rig up a battery power supply.
It's funny that you put up a link to the BlackCanyonBrewers.. That's where I'm from. I recently learned of it's existence, only to also learn that they're now defunct... :(

Thus I'm still an orphan..

Anyway, back on topic.. :mug:
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Well. I got it all wired up. Didn't change configurations of the fans just to test.
2 frozen plastic containers kept it at 60 degrees for over 18 hours now.
The ambient has stuck around 76 all night.

So with more ice plus fermenters, it should work just fine.
Pics when I get home.
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Well. I got it all wired up. Didn't change configurations of the fans just to test.
2 frozen plastic containers kept it at 60 degrees for over 18 hours now.
The ambient has stuck around 76 all night.

So with more ice plus fermenters, it should work just fine.
Pics when I get home.
 

marc06

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I don't want to hijack this thread, but I have been wanting to build a fermentation chamber myself, since I live in Florida. However, my problem is that I live in a 1 bedroom apartment and SWMBO won't let me have any more space for my brewing. I do have a 125 gallon fishtank that I have been keeping my carboys underneath (one side only) due to it being a few degrees cooler there than ambient temperature. My question is, how necessary is the division for the ice? I was thinking about insulation the cabinet underneath my fish tank, installing two fans on each side of the cabinet and putting ice in the middle. The cabinet is about 3'-3.5' long and about 2'~2.25' long, large enough that I can fit 3 carboys in right now.

Thanks
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Well, I separated mine.... but you should be fine... just have to rotate your ice out sooner...

Right now, I get 2 days before I need to rotate the ice. And that's with blistering Texas heat.... of course, FL isn't much better.

BTW, I use two 1 gallon blocks of frozen plastic containers...
 

adx

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Test it out without the "input" fans. I'm totally talking out of my arse here, but I feel like it would be more efficient that way.
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Test it out without the "input" fans. I'm totally talking out of my arse here, but I feel like it would be more efficient that way.
Actually, yea... that may be better... instead of pulling "hot" air in... just let it sit in the cooler air.
 

boredatwork

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Here is the thread by Yuir about his attempts at thermoelectric:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-thermoelectric-temperature-control-27524/

Last I checked it didn't work out too well. I had actually thought of using one of those car coolers, but after reading Yuri post I think there are two clear reasons why it wouldn't work. First, they are just not power enough. That is the main reason. Second, I think they need really good secondary cooling. Just based on the way they work, you are not getting anything for free. You end up with a cold side, but also a very hot side. So you need a way to effectively remove the heat produced by the thermoelectric very efficiently. I think the difference of a SOF chamber is that it uses ice - so you are getting cold at without the side effect of the hot. And if you use a freezer/fridge, their cooling is far more efficient (as well as the insulation mechanism).

So I think the conclusion is that thermoelectric is just not good.
 

adx

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Actually, yea... that may be better... instead of pulling "hot" air in... just let it sit in the cooler air.
It won't just sit there. In that small of a volume one of those fans is more then enough to make a nice little air current in that box. Sometime too much convection is a bad thing.
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Finally... the last 2 pics...
Sorry for grainy pic, shot with my Blackberry (Digicam battery = dead)


2 carboys with room to spare....


Frozen boxes


Those are just blue (not UV) LED fans... shouldnt worry about being lightstruck should I?

if so... i can just clip the led's off

They were just the only ones I had laying around.
 

Ridemywideglide

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Finally... the last 2 pics...
Sorry for grainy pic, shot with my Blackberry (Digicam battery = dead)


2 carboys with room to spare....


Frozen boxes


Those are just blue (not UV) LED fans... shouldnt worry about being lightstruck should I?

if so... i can just clip the led's off

They were just the only ones I had laying around.
Blackberry??? That's the problem.. All your beer will come out better if you toss that thing in the toilet.. :D

Seriously tho. I think you'd be better served removing 3 of those fans, leaving 1 pulling from cold chamber and closing off the other holes.. I'd put it at the lowest point you can as well. Your not trying to blast freeze the other chamber, just gently circulate the chilled air.
 
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ikonis

ikonis

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Blackberry??? That's the problem.. All your beer will come out better if you toss that thing in the toilet.. :D

Seriously tho. I think you'd be better served removing 3 of those fans, leaving 1 pulling from cold chamber and closing off the other holes.. I'd put it at the lowest point you can as well. Your not trying to blast freeze the other chamber, just gently circulate the chilled air.
Well... with ambient temps so high in my house... its not blast freezing the air....

The carboy temp stickers say theyre sitting at a nice 70.....

I'll try it out for those 2 carboys then see how that goes.....

since I just used a starter in that better bottle... its already bubbling away... amazingly fast fermentation in my experience....

THANKS for the advice though.... just... well..... have to try it as is... I'm sure you understand.


Edit... and if i do.... ill put a nice perforated screen on the two "hot" pullers.... since ive pretty well sealed off the two chambers from each other good idear? (Wow... thats the cream draught talking)
 
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